Ocular Migraine Treatment NYC | Retinal Migraine

Treatment for ocular migraine headaches varies so widely because it depends on what causes the severe headaches that occur behind your eyes. Even if you only have a headache behind the right eye on occasion, you need to take it seriously and visit an eye doctor near me in Downtown Manhattan at Eye Physicians. They offer accurate diagnoses and effective ocular migraine treatments, as well as treatment for a wide range of eye disorders. They work hard to get you in and out of the office in under an hour. Call for an appointment today.

    What Is an Ocular Migraine?

    If you’ve experienced flashes of light in one eye or temporary blind spots that last an hour or less, you may have experienced an ocular migraine, also called a retinal migraine, optical migraine or eye migraine. A retinal migraine is a rare condition that may precede or accompany a full-blown migraine headache and may sometimes occur without a headache. It usually affects one eye, not both.

    Sudden visual changes or any level of vision loss should always be evaluated by an experienced optometrist as soon as possible. Eye Physicians offers comprehensive eye care in NYC and is the best choice for both routine and emergency eye care in the Manhattan area.

    Ocular Migraine, Retinal Migraine

    What Are Symptoms That I May Need Retinal Migraine Treatment?

    The symptoms of an optical migraine vary from one person to another, and vision changes may or may not include pain.

    The most common symptoms of an ocular migraine include:

    • Zigzagging patterns
    • Blind spots that may cause partial or total vision loss
    • Flickering or shimmering lights
    • Waves of vision that alternate between light and dark
    • Blurred vision in one eye

    If you have blind spots, they may get bigger as the migraine goes on. There may be a wide range of visual symptoms including images that are fractured, bright in color and contain repeating geometric patterns. The symptoms of an optical migraine usually pass within 60 minutes and your vision returns to normal.

    Since attacks of retinal migraines are brief, you may not be able to see your eye care professional during an attack, but symptoms should be evaluated to rule out something more serious. To determine if you have retinal migraines, your eye doctor does a thorough examination which includes reviewing your symptoms and your family medical history. Your NYC eye doctor may diagnose ocular migraines by ruling out other possible eye disorders.

    What Causes a Retinal Migraine?

    The exact cause of retinal migraines is unknown, but many researchers theorize that it may be related to blood flow issues involving the retina. Retinal migraines may be set off by the same things that trigger migraines.

    Examples of triggers include:

    • Stress or anxiety
    • Dehydration
    • High blood pressure
    • Lack of sleep
    • Smoking
    • Hormonal changes
    • Low blood sugar
    • Exercise
    • Weather changes
    • High altitude
    • Strong odors

    Certain foods can trigger migraines such as alcohol, artificial sweeteners and processed meats that contain nitrates. In some people, migraines are associated with caffeine withdrawal. Ocular migraines can affect people of all ages but are most common between the ages of 20 and 40.

    Why Do I Have a Headache Behind the Right Eye?

    Retinal migraines start in the retina, behind the eye. They sometimes include a headache behind one eye, but headaches behind one eye don’t always indicate a migraine.

    If you experience a headache behind the right eye or behind the left eye, it may be a sign of different conditions such as:

    • Cluster headaches. These are painful headaches that occur on one side of the head and can cause painful throbbing behind one eye.
    • Tension headaches. Headaches caused by tension lead to pain across the forehead and down the neck and can also trigger pain behind the eyes.
    • Eye strain. Many people experience headaches or discomfort in their eyes because of spending a long time looking at digital screens without taking a break. Prolonged periods of looking at electronic screens can also cause eye dryness.

    Inflamed sinuses can trigger pressure or pain behind one or both eyes. When you have a retinal migraine, the headache pain that follows may be throbbing, pounding or pulsing and is usually located behind the affected eye.

    What’s the Difference Between an Ocular Migraine and a Migraine Aura?

    An ocular migraine isn’t the same thing as a migraine with aura. A migraine aura starts in the brain, not the eye, and it’s common for a migraine with aura to affect your vision.

    Characteristics of a migraine with aura include:

    • Vision changes affecting both eyes
    • Symptoms are still present when eyes are closed
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Tingling in hands or face
    • Disorientation or confusion

    The symptoms of a migraine with aura last longer than the symptoms of a retinal migraine and can last well over an hour. The visual disturbances that go along with a migraine with aura are temporary but can interfere with your daily activities until symptoms pass.

    What Types of Treatment for Ocular Migraine Are There?

    Ocular migraine treatment may not be needed if you don’t experience retinal migraines frequently, such as less than once a month.

    If your symptoms occur frequently, retinal migraine treatment focuses on reducing the frequency of your attacks, which may include:

    • Avoiding dietary triggers
    • Quitting smoking
    • Reducing stress

    To find the lifestyle changes that may be most beneficial in preventing ocular migraines, it may be helpful to keep a journal of when retinal migraines occur and what may have triggered them. If lifestyle changes don’t relieve symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications such as antiepileptics, antidepressants or calcium channel blockers. If you have migraine aura with a headache, your doctor may prescribe medications that help to block the sensation of pain.

    When Should I See a Doctor for Vision Changes?

    To keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear, it’s important to have regular eye exams. There are some symptoms that may be signs of a serious problem relating to your vision or overall health, which should be evaluated immediately by an experienced NYC eye doctor.

    These include:

    • Eye pain
    • Sudden intense headache
    • Frequent headaches behind the eyes
    • Blurry vision
    • Double vision treatment
    • Gritty eyes
    • Vision loss accompanied by black spots
    • Speech changes
    • Weakness on one side of the body

    Ocular migraines aren’t usually dangerous, but the symptoms of optical migraines can mimic other more serious conditions so if you’re having blurry vision, blind spots or are seeing floaters or flashing lights, it’s important to have an evaluation by an eye professional. Contact the experienced ophthalmologists and optometrists at Eye Physicians for any concerns affecting your vision or eyelids. For the best eye care in NYC, schedule an appointment at Eye Physicians today.

    Page Updated on Jul 8, 2024 by Dr. William Hogue, OD (Optometrist) of Eye Physicians
    William Hogue, OD

    My name is Dr. William Hogue, and I am an optometrist dedicated to providing top-quality professional eye care. I'm trained in treating various ocular conditions, including dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, and retinal issues.

    I earned my chemistry degree summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee. Subsequently, I obtained my Doctorate of Optometry (OD) and Master of Science (MS) from the New England College of Optometry. Following graduation, I completed an ocular disease residency at the State University of New York’s College of Optometry. Beyond my clinical work, I have also been a supporter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH).

    More about Dr. Hogue

    Eye Physicians
    110 Lafayette St, Suite 503
    New York, NY 10013
    (212) 292-4814

    Why Choose Eye Physicians?

    Entrust the care of your precious eyesight to highly skilled and experienced eye care professionals. For top-notch ophthalmologists and optometrists in Downtown Manhattan, choose Eye Physicians. Eye Physicians ensures prompt care, precise diagnosis, and personalized treatment plans.

    Schedule an Appointment